WHAT IS A PTERYGIUM?

A pterygium is an overgrowth and scarring of the conjunctival membrane of the eye.

It is believed to be caused and aggravated by exposure to ultraviolet light in susceptible individuals. A pterygium can be troublesome and it may become necessary to remove it surgically.

pterygium_03THE PROCEDURE

The operation is done as a day procedure at St Augustine’s Hospital in the Outpatient Department. An overnight stay is not necessary for pterygium surgery.Many patients have a local anaesthetic although general anaesthesia is suitable for some. The technique is a microsurgical operation which takes place with the aid of an operating microscope. The scarred tissue is gently cut away from the eye and, in most cases, a patch of healthy conjunctiva from the same eye is glued or stitched over the bare area. This technique maximizes comfort, healing and is the best way of preventing recurrence of the pterygium. A soft contact lens is placed over the operated cornea and stays in place for 1 week. This lens aids healing and increases post-operative comfort.

Mild to moderate discomfort is common after pterygium surgery and usually lasts about 24 to 48 hours.It is never severe and youwill be given Myprodol/Genpayn for the first few days.You will be given several eye pads and you can pad the eye closed after the operation if this is more comfortable for you. Most people keep the eye uncovered and the contact lens acts like a see-through bandage.

SURGICAL COMPLICATIONS

Serious complications with this procedure are rare. The eye will be red and scratchy for some days afterwards. Most eyes will remain a little red for 6 to 8 weeks. The biggest risk of surgery is recurrence of the pterygium. The technique that we use has the lowest rate of recurrence – about 1 in 50.

AFTER SURGERY

Sick leave will be required by most for a few days after the operation. There are no restrictions on using the operated eye but take care not to rub it vigorously. Swimming is restricted for 2 weeks afterwards but bathing and showering is not restricted.